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      Are Cruises Worth It? The Pros and Cons of Cruising

      Holly Riddle
      The Pros and Cons of Cruising

      The upfront cost of a cruise may sometimes be a little steep. Even if you’re not booking an all-inclusive cruise, you could pay thousands of dollars per person. When you could book flights and a hotel room for less, are cruises worth it?

      It depends on who you ask, and there are a lot of factors to consider. For some travelers, cruises are more than worth it and a favorite way to travel for many good reasons. For other travelers, a cruise isn’t their ideal dream vacation.

      Here are all the pros and cons of cruising. They will help you decide which camp you fall into if you’ve never cruised before and are considering booking your first.

      The Vacationer Tip

      Check out deals before booking your cruise!

      The Pros of Cruising

      Short on time and just want to make a quick pros/cons list? If so, here are the pros you should consider. For more details, though, keep reading. 

      • You really do get a lot for your money.
      • There’s no need for you to plan.
      • You can see more destinations in one trip.
      • Cruising appeals to a lot of people. 
      • Cruising can take you to places you otherwise couldn’t go. 
      • You don’t always need a passport.

      You really do get a lot for your money

      Don’t just take that seemingly expensive cruise fare at face value. While it may seem like a steep price for a vacation, it’s crucial to consider everything you get from a cruise. 

      Compare it to the cost of a bundled hotel and flight. While a bundled hotel and flight gives you literally just a place to lay your head and transportation between two destinations, the cruise fare gives you so much more.

      You get…

      • Accommodations
      • Dining 
      • Entertainment
      • Activities
      • Transportation between multiple destinations 
      • And more!

      Considering how these types of costs really add up on a traditional vacation, you might realize cruising is actually an outstanding deal

      There’s no need for you to plan

      If you loathe the idea of planning an itinerary for your next vacation, you might just love cruising. 

      On a cruise, you never have to think about what you’ll do next. There’s always something going on, and it’s all contained within the ship, so there’s no real itinerary needed. Decide what you want to do, right now. Maybe that’s laying by the pool, heading to a bar, or checking out a workshop. Whatever it is, do it, wash, rinse, and repeat. 

      You can see more destinations in one trip

      Again, if you want a vacation that takes you to multiple destinations, you’ll have to do a fair amount of planning on your own. But, that’s not the case with a cruise. 

      Whether it’s a Caribbean, Mediterranean, South Pacific, or New England cruise, you can easily see a handful of destinations in one trip. There’s no extra work. You just show up before the cruise departs, sit back, and enjoy the ride. 

      Cruising appeals to a lot of people

      Despite the cons that do exist, cruising appeals to a lot of people. The average cruise ship offers something for just about everyone. Foodies can find world-class dining on many cruise ships. Families find tons of kid-friendly fun. Couples can enjoy adult-only spaces and spa treatments, etc. If you’re planning a family or group trip, a cruise will likely offer something for everyone. 

      Cruising can take you places you otherwise couldn’t go

      Especially if you cruise on a small ship or with a specialty cruise line, you can find cruises that will take you to parts of the planet that you otherwise wouldn’t or couldn’t go — whether due to geography, lack of access, or just cost. From tiny islands in the Pacific to remote beaches in the Mediterranean, glaciers in Alaska, to even Antarctica, the right cruise can take you far. 

      You don’t always need a passport

      That’s right. It is possible to see some Caribbean islands without a passport — so long as you’re on a cruise. 

      Cruising without a passport does require other documentation. However, if you already have that documentation, don’t have the time to wait for a new passport, and want to escape to a tropical foreign locale ASAP, a closed-loop cruise (a cruise that starts and ends in the same U.S. city) is worth considering. 

      Cruise Deals: Browse Ongoing Cruise Deals

      The Cons of Cruising 

      Is Cruising Worth It?

      But not everything is rosy in the world of cruising. Here are the cons that might make you change your mind about booking that cruise.

      • You might not get as much for your money as you expect.
      • This isn’t a mode of travel for the free-spirited, spur-of-the-moment traveler.
      • It can be difficult to really immerse yourself in a destination.
      • Cruise ships are crowded.
      • Cruising isn’t exactly sustainable. 
      • Cruising forces you to unplug.

      You might not get as much for your money as you expect

      Remember how we said that cruising is an outstanding deal? Well, it definitely is. However, even though you get dining, entertainment, activities, and more included in your base cruise fare, don’t roll up to the ship expecting an all-inclusive experience (unless you book an all-inclusive cruise). You’ll have to shell out extra for specialty dining, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments, and shore excursions (among other costs).

      (Think you’ll just bring your own booze aboard the ship? You’ll need to know the rules for bringing alcohol and food on a cruise.) 

      This isn’t a mode of travel for the free-spirited, spur-of-the-moment traveler

      If you don’t like travel schedules and prefer to just show up at a destination and see where the wind takes you, you might not like cruising. Yes, you do have your pick of cruising activities during sea days when the ship is docked. However, when you’re touring a destination, you must get off the ship at a particular time (And, that may take even longer if the port you arrive at has tendering). You must leave the destination at a specific time. Then, it’s off to the next island (or similar destination) on the itinerary. There’s no room for flexibility.

      It can be difficult to really immerse yourself in a destination

      If you love to immerse yourself in a destination — get to know the locals, wander the neighborhoods, spend days soaking it all in — then cruising might not be a fit for you. With the limited hours you have on shore, you won’t get enough time during a cruise. Not to mention, most of the shore excursions that cruise lines offer center around activities that some seasoned travelers might consider tourist traps. 

      Cruise ships are crowded

      Because cruising does appeal to so many people, cruise ships can get crowded. If you don’t like crowds, you may feel claustrophobic and frustrated on the bigger ships. And lines? Prepare for them everywhere, from the buffet to the elevators.

      Cruising isn’t exactly sustainable

      While, admittedly, more ships and cruise lines are switching to more sustainable fuels and eco-friendly operations as a whole, overall, the cruising industry is not kind to the environment. If you’ve been making a concentrated effort to reduce your carbon footprint or only travel in an eco-friendly manner, cruising may test your values. 

      Along those lines, cruises aren’t typically sustainable from a community perspective either. Since cruise lines often focus on taking cruisers to enjoy a few tourist trap activities in a destination, before heading off to the next stop, cruisers don’t necessarily benefit the local economies. If you want your travel to benefit local economies as much as possible, travel directly to a destination and then spend money with local businesses. 

      Cruising forces you to unplug  

      While most cruises offer WiFi to some degree, cruises aren’t exactly known for their stellar WiFi service. If you’re the type of traveler who absolutely must post vacay photos to their social media account as soon as possible, you’ll be frustrated. Additionally, if you’re traveling but just can’t step that far away from work for the time being, you won’t have a great time.

      Cruise Deals: If the cons of cruising do not scare you, be sure to Browse Ongoing Cruise Deals.

      Would a Certain Type of Cruise Be Right for Me? 

      Weighing the pros and cons and not sure about this whole cruising thing? All of the above cons considered, it’s worth noting that there are exceptions. Just because general, mainstream cruises on the most popular lines might not be to your liking, there could very well be more niche, specific types of cruises that you’d love.

      For example, consider taking a more intimate, small-ship cruise if you’re worried about cruise crowds. Some small ships are limited to just a few hundred passengers, which is much more palatable when compared to mega ships that hold an easy 6,000 passengers.

      Similarly, if you don’t like the thought of chilling by a cruise ship pool filled with screaming kiddos, opt for an adults-only cruise.

      If you find cruise ship buffets and off-Broadway entertainment a bit not your style, look at luxury cruising options that focus on fine dining, immersive shore experiences, and educational seminars. 

      Just as a popular, major cruise line cruise ship offers something for everyone, you can find plenty of other niche-specific cruise lines and ships that cater to select audiences.


      How do I know if I would like a cruise?

      If you’ve read our above breakdown of the pros and cons and still can’t decide if you’d like a cruise, try comparing a cruise to a stay at an all-inclusive resort. The experiences are incredibly similar — except one’s on the water. If you’ve enjoyed staying at all-inclusive resorts in the past, you very well might like a cruise.

      Is cruising safe?

      Yes, cruising is one of the safest modes of travel, much safer than train or automobile travel and comparable to air travel.

      Where should you go on your first cruise?

      For your first cruise, opt for convenience. Choose a cruise that leaves from a port that you can access easily via either a drive or a quick flight with no layovers. Aim for a cruise that’s about a week long, which will be just long enough to allow you to visit a handful of ports, but not so long that you’ll be excessively miserable if you determine you don’t like cruising.

      What is the best time to go on a cruise?

      Instead of asking when the best time to cruise is, you should ask where’s the best place to cruise based on when you’re traveling. 

      For example, if you want to take a summer cruise, try Alaska for the balmier temperatures and wildlife, or Bermuda, which is so far north that it’s not a great fit in the winter. If you want to cruise in the fall, try New England for the leaf-peeping. Spring cruises are popular in Europe before the summer crowds arrive. For the winter, try Southeast Asia or the Caribbean, where the weather is nicest (just be prepared for the crowds in the latter).

      Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post. 

      Holly Riddle Headshot

      By Holly Riddle

      Holly Riddle is a freelance travel, food, and lifestyle journalist who also dabbles in ghostwriting and fiction. Her work appears in publications ranging from Global Traveler to Golf Magazine, Mashed to Forbes, and Bloomberg. When she’s not writing, you can find her exploring the mountains near her home in the Adirondacks. Her favorite travel destinations include Chicago and New Orleans.